Cellar Direct: German Riesling Powerhouses

3 11 2016

[These bottles were provided as samples for review purposes.]


Serious wine, serious value.

You owe it to yourself to drink more German Riesling.  You may not know it yet, but you do.  I know the idea of turning to something German doesn’t conjure up the same (somewhat oversold) feelings of art or romance that something French or Italian might, but I’m here to tell you that startling clarity, absolute transparency and unfailing precision can be much sexier than you give them credit for.

And I know, I know – you don’t like sweet wine and all German wine is sweet, right?  Except (1) your palate may be more attuned to sweetness than you expect, and (2) no, no it’s not.  In fact, some German Rieslings are as dry as a bone, often helpfully highlighted by the label indicator “trocken”. A “trocken” designation doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be no residual sugar left in the wine, but any that remains will be minimal (9 grams per litre or less) and the wine will taste dry, thanks to a helpful assist from German Riesling’s often raging levels of scouring acidity.  Another hint of dryness in German whites is (relatively) elevated levels of alcohol, since this is an indication that the bulk of the sugars in the grapes have been converted to alcohol during fermentation instead of left in the finished wine.  Generally speaking, if it’s 10.5%-11% abv or higher, it probably won’t taste sweet (and frankly, even if there is some discernible sweetness, you will probably welcome it given how much else will be going on.  Trust me.) Read the rest of this entry »

Tasting In Stereo with North of 9 Fine Wine: 2009 Dr. H. Thanisch Berncasteler Doctor Riesling Kabinett

19 03 2012

Welcome to the second edition of Tasting In Stereo, a joint effort between yours truly and Tyler Philp of North of 9 Fine Wine that brings you two simultaneous reviews of tonight’s bottle, one immediately below on this page and the other over on the North of 9 blog.  Once you’re done reading the PnP take on this wine, click on over to Tyler to see if he agreed or disagreed with my assessment…we do not share our thoughts or tasting notes with each other before publication, so I’m just as curious as you are to see if this bottle met Tyler’s fancy.  For a bit of background about who Tyler is, how I met him and why we started up this simul-tasting endeavour, check out my inaugural Tasting In Stereo post here.

The one and only Bernkasteler Doctor...that's an actual rendition of the town of Bernkastel on the label with The Doctor rising up behind it.

Tonight’s Tasting In Stereo wine is right in my wheelhouse for a number of reasons.  First, I’m pretty sure Tyler picked up his bottle the last time he was in Calgary, so we’re dealing with home turf inventory.  Second, it’s a German Riesling, and if you know anything at all about me or about this blog, you’ll know that the way to my heart runs right through that grape and that country.  Third, it’s not just any German Riesling:  it’s a German Riesling from the Augusta (for those of you feeling like a golf analogy) of German Riesling vineyards, Bernkasteler Doctor.  By way of quick review, if you look at the label of this or any German wine bottle, and you see two words in a row, the first of which ends in “er”, there is a 99% chance that the “er” word is the name of the village adjacent to the vineyard where the wine’s grapes were grown (with the possessive “er” added to signify that the vineyard is “from” that village) and the following word is the name of the vineyard — this is my Two Word “Er” Rule for deciphering German wine labels.  In this case, the relevant village is Bernkastel, which is in the heart of Germany’s Mosel Valley (don’t ask me why the label spells “Berncasteler” with a C instead of a K…even the neck label of this same bottle spells “Bernkastel” with a K like I’m used to seeing) and the vineyard’s name is Doctor.  Why Doctor, you ask?  Cue the best back story any plot of dirt could ever want… Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Review: 2007 Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett

5 06 2011

I will always be attached to this wine. Pure heaven.

As I hinted at yesterday, tonight’s wine is special to me.  It’s one of my “eureka” wines, one of those rare bottles that turned my general interest in wine into a huge passion and that continues to drive me to learn, read, taste and write about wine.  If you’re wondering why German Riesling is my favourite kind of wine, this bottle can take a lot of the credit.  The first time I had it was at a casual tasting that some friends and I organized a couple years ago.  I picked the wine as a curiosity, as something new to try en route to the more expensive and exciting big reds waiting at the end of the evening.  Instead, the first sip of this Riesling stopped time and drowned out everything else.  I couldn’t tell you what any of the other wines I had that night tasted like, but I remember this one intensely.  I haven’t had it again until tonight. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Review: 2009 Muller-Catoir Mussbach Riesling Kabinett

24 03 2011

German wine aristocracy.

After last night’s CNDP debacle, I wanted to make sure I bounced back strong tonight.  So I turned to my go-to varietal (Riesling) in my go-to wine country (Germany) to bring you the first ever non-dessert white wine featured in PnP, the 2009 Mussbach Kabinett Riesling from Muller-Catoir.  I bought this wine a few months ago from Bin 905 on 4th St and 23rd Ave SW, on which visit I discovered that they have the most ludicrously large German Riesling selection in Calgary, probably in Canada…it’s like Anglo-Saxon Mecca in there.  I don’t go to Bin a lot, but I foresee a few periodic Riesling pilgrimages in my future. Read the rest of this entry »

Tips & Tricks: How to Decipher a German Wine Label

18 03 2011

In preparation for a special celebratory edition of PnP tomorrow, I thought that tonight I would run over the finer points of wrestling with German wine labels.  German wine is often a struggle for people, either because they often think that every German white on the shelves will be sickly sweet (totally untrue) or because they don’t feel like wending their way through 16-letter words with two vowels on the label (go figure).  I’m actually a huge fan of German wine labels because they provide what so few other Old World labels do:  information.  Once you learn how to decode them, you can tell a lot about your Teutonic wine before you even open it. Read the rest of this entry »

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